Free agency is slowing to a crawl now. The top names are mostly off the market. The Dolphins did not report any visits Monday. Things are quiet.
The club is still flirting with RT Eric Winston. There are a couple of other one-year or two-year contract type guys out there -- specifically Brandon Moore and Lance Louis.
But, frankly, I don't believe the Dolphins can affford to be done.
The team's free agency focus now needs to be cornerback. The position is a nightmare. Brent Grimes is out there and available. The only other team talking to him, other than Miami, seems to be Cleveland.
Get it done!
Why the urgency on Grimes?
The team's stated plan in free agency in it's early stages was to fill needs and upgrade as many positions as possible so that general manager Jeff Ireland could have room to operate in any direction he wants during the draft.
That's not me saying that. Last week at the NFL annual meeting both Ireland and coach Joe Philbin talked about having "more latitude" in the draft based on Miami's free agency moves. The idea, I am being told, is to go into the draft without having to select players because of need. The idea is to select the best available player (BAP).
But look at the cornerback position. You know what you see?
It's not so much that Miami lost Sean Smith because, frankly, he was not a good player at the end of the year after a very, very hot start. Inconsistency thy name is Sean Smith. It's because the apparent loss followed the loss of Vontae Davis and the injury-riddled year of Richard Marshall.
So Miami's top three cornerbacks from one year ago are either gone from the team or coming back from major back surgery.
Who does that leave the Dolphins with at cornerback right now? Let's ask Philbin:
“I think our front seven hopefully is going to be good again," he said. "I think it’s a good group. We like what we’re going to see there. We’re really happy that we re-signed Chris Clemons as well. Again, Chris is a guy that played 1,100 plays, he might have played more plays than anybody on our football team a year ago and the guy’s tough. He keeps his mouth shut. He just comes to work. He’s physical. He’s a good football player. I’m really delighted he’s back. Kelcie McCray’s a guy that we were excited about. In a limited role that we saw him, he’s going to have a chance to get to work again. I’m excited about it. I think we’re going to have a good nucleus with a good defense. The biggest thing we said we’ve got to find a way to take the ball away. After watching all of the cutups, 1,000 or so plays on defense, we can’t survive with 16 takeaways."
Understand what just happened here. Philbin is asked about the cornerback situation and he talks about the front seven, a safety, an undrafted rookie player that was injured practically the first week of training camp last year, and the problems taking the ball away last year.
That isn't much of an endorsement of what is currently going on for the Dolphins at cornerback.
So let's have another go at it.
Coach, what are you excited about at cornerback?
"Well we have some young guys on the roster that we are excited about working with," he responds. "You know (Julian) Posey and (Deandre) Presley and those guys. We’d like to see how they come along, and the offseason program is a Godsend for those guys because they get to be in the building every day and learn and compete, so we’re excited about seeing what they are capable of doing. And then obviously there are a lot of good players still available in free agency that we may or may not pursue and then there’s 11 draft picks. So I think we’re certainly not done adding to that position and we’ll see what happens."
Oh boy. Trouble.
The Dolphins need Grimes. Or they need to get an idea and perhaps look into Tracy Porter or even DeAngelo Hall. (Porter is wildly inconsistent and Hall is not my favorite because of his attitude but both still have value as a one-year stopgap). Sheldon Brown, a solid zone defender, is also avaliable.
Barring the addition of a veteran cornerback the Dolphins are going to find themselves locked into a tough situation on draft day. They are going to find themselves drafting not one but probably two corners in the top rounds
The last time the club did that -- in 2009 with Davis and Smith -- it didn't work out very well. Yet, barring that kind of commitment to the positon, the Dolphins will be picking starting cornerbacks out of a group of players -- Marshall, Dimitri Patterson, McCray, Posey, Presley -- that raise more questions than they do deliver answers.
The Dolphins need to sign Brent Grimes, folks.